After letting Rockdale come back from an 11-point deficit with less than three minutes to play and beat Newton at home on senior night, the Rams reedemed themselves in a 17-point victory (59-42) over nearby county rival Rockdale.
Marvin Boireau got the start and drew Region 2-AAAAAA Player of the Year, Jalen Jordan as his assignment on defense. Boireau played well defensively, Jordan scored just eight points in the contest.
Still, Rockdale started the game where they left off just two weeks ago taking a 6-0 lead early in the first. JD Notae went on a 5-0 run to make it 6-5, Rockdale. The Bulldogs extended their lead to 10-5, but Newton got to within three points after a Josh Tukes putback. Ashton Hagans had a slow start missing some shots at the rim after getting inside the paint with some nice moves and the Bulldogs led 14-9 after the first.
Two baskets from Jaquan Simms had Newton within one (14-13) to start the second. Simms was huge on the night, leading Newton in scoring with 20 points including seven in the second quarter. A pass from Hagans to Notae tied the game at 17 and the Rams were back in business.
Newton’s defense forced other players outside of Jordan to beat them, and for a while it worked for the Bulldogs staying with Newton throughout the first half with five points from Adam Ellis in the second.
Newton held the ball for the last shot at the end of the first half, but Notae misfired and the game was tied at 27-all at halftime. Second chance opportunities killed Newton in the first half, but Newton wouldn’t let that hinder them in the second half. .
The Rams came out and went on a 9-0 run.Both offenses grew rusty and the lead stayed at 36-29 until Simms scored on the up-and-under to go up by nine.
Rockdale played excellent defense and kept a body on Newton players, but when the Rams got loose it usually resulted in points. Newton took a 40-31 lead into the final period with the chance to play in the region championship.
Ray Washington's three got Rockdale within six in the final frame and it appeared that maybe Rockdale would fight its way back into the game just like last time, but Newton wasn’t having it. They played angry, like a team that knows it should’ve swept Rockdale.
Newton started running some time off the clock in the fourth, controlling the ball. Rasmussen called a Rams timeout with 5:14 to play. Out of the timeout, a charge on Notae gave the Bulldogs the ball back.
Hagans suffered a scare in the game after running into a Rockdale defender and exiting the game, but he would return. Simms hits a three on the next possession following Hagans’ injury. With an assist to Tukes the Rams went up by 11 with a little more than three minutes remaining.
Jordan’s only made shot of the fourth, a three, got Rockdale within 10. Under one minute to go and Ray Washington’s triple made it a nine-point game. Newton, however, relentlessly finished the last 54 seconds on an 8-0 run, getting out on the break against Rockdale’s press defense.
It was a great win for the redeeming Rams. Notae scored 14 for Newton and Washington was Rockdale’s only scorer in double digits with 14 points.